The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 17, 2012

Gibbon dairy farm operators facing criminal charges

Several don't show for May hearing

MANKATO — Southern Minnesota dairy farmers who faced civil sanctions for repeatedly ignoring court orders to stop selling unpasteurized milk products are now facing misdemeanor charges in criminal court.

A gross misdemeanor charge of selling improperly labeled dairy products and several misdemeanor charges have been filed against the owners of Hartmann Dairy Farm in Gibbon.

 The eight misdemeanor charges include the illegal sale of unpasturized dairy products, including milk and cheese; illegal sale of adulterated or improperly labeled food; selling food without a license; and operating a dairy plant without a permit.

Michael Otto Hartmann, 59, and his wife, Dianne Marcella Hartmann, 59, were scheduled to appear May 3 in Sibley County District Court. Michael Hartman was released on his own recognizance after his hearing. His wife wasn’t there, court records said. Donald Lannoye, Sibley County Attorney, said there was some discussion between Michael Hartmann and District Court Judge Richard Perkins about whether Hartmann could appear for his wife.

The same charges have also been filed against Michael Hartmann’s 56-year-old brother, Roger Dennis Hartmann of Gibbon, and alleged business associate Linda Schultz, 68, of Minneapolis. The charges were filed by the Sibley County attorney at the request of James Roettger, a compliance officer with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Roger Hartmann and Schultz also failed to appear May 3, according to court records. Lannoye said warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Roettger also is alleging that the Hartmanns continue to distribute their products even though they have received court-approved orders to stop.

The Hartmann Dairy Farm was searched by law enforcement officers and agriculture department inspectors in May 2010 after products from the farm were linked to E. coli and other illnesses. Investigators reported finding poor sanitary conditions, packaged cheese and other dairy products that weren’t labeled properly, milk that hadn’t been pasteurized, and meat that had been packaged without an inspection stamp or a label saying it hadn’t been inspected.

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